Welcome to Wye

Week Four. Day Two.

Last Friday we concluded our time at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center (SERC). Our excavation at SERC proved to be insightful but a certain element of intrigue nonetheless remains. The excavation of units around the building proved to be rich in artifacts. Unit three, my unit, which straddled the inside and outside of the building demonstrated some level of difference between the inside and outside. A feature containing artifacts was located in the deeper levels outside the building, oyster shells and shards of glass were also found in greater quantity in the outside section of the house. Unit Two, located at the back of the house, is believed to be located over what would have been a porch. Unit One, located in the front of the building, surprised its excavators with a drastic difference in depth in their level C and feature containing oyster shells, and the most recent, and original, theory is that it is located on what would have been a garden. There still remains much to be learned from our SERC site, which Archaeology in Annapolis will hopefully address in future field seasons.

We are now at our new location; the Long Green at Wye House Plantation. Wye House is located near Easton, Maryland and was settled as a plantation in the late Seventeenth Century. Throughout its history as a prolific farm Wye House has seen many notable people, one of them being a young Frederick Douglass. Douglass lived, as a slave, at Wye House Plantation for a few years at about the age of six. Though his time at Wye Plantation was brief, it left a strong and lasting impression of life as a slave, and is described vividly and accurately in Douglass’ book, “My Bondage and My Freedom”. Mentioned in “My Bondage and My Freedom” is The Long Green, where we are currently excavating. One of our goals in excavating at the Long Green, an area were slaves worked, is to learn more about the slave’s daily lives. This includes religious practice.

Cache Found at entrance of building. Source: Archaeology in Annapolis Flickr

Cache Found at entrance of building. Source: Archaeology in Annapolis Flickr

Last year’s field school at the Long Green uncovered a Cache located at the entranceway of the building. The Cache, containing items believed, in West African Traditions, to protect one’s entryways, was left to be better excavated during this field season with new technology. This season the plan is to excavate the Cache using laser technology to scan the cache as it is excavated, thus preserving a record of the cache as it was found.

Currently, as we prepare for the laser scanning to commence, three units are excavating in the side yards of the building. So far we have yet to find much; one brick, a wire, and a nail that peculiarly resembles one of our own nails used to mark unit boundaries. The unit closest to the marsh area has encountered mud, while my unit, which is relatively distant from the marsh and directly under the afternoon sun, has had very dry dirt. I have yet to decide which one is worse, but the dry dirt might win on the account of being less messy. Three more weeks remain of field school and hopefully in that time period, we will be able to better understand not only Frederick Douglass, but the life of those who lived and worked in the Long Green and Wye House Plantation, through our excavation.


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